Native Affairs - Desperately Seeking A Home

By Renee Kahukura-Iosefa

A Napier whānau staying in a motel paid for by Work and Income New Zealand are desperate to find a place that they can call home. 

“It's happening, it's a crisis there are no homes out there for people,” says Katherine Hereaka.

Along with her partner Rangi Naera and their 7-year-old daughter, Hereaka is staying in a motel, which is costing WINZ $945 a week.

“The day that I had to go to WINZ and tell them that we were homeless and that we had nowhere to go I was crying my head off. I felt so ashamed I never had to ask anyone for help like that before.”

The couple say a shortage of affordable rentals has increased the need for state housing. This has forced the taxpayer to fork out for emergency accommodation. 

In just three months WINZ has paid out $9 million in emergency accommodation for 2,600 clients.

“It's like a full-time job trying to find a home. You work at night looking on the net, you write the houses down, you ring up the landlords, you ring up the property managers you take all your CVs in, you get there and there is like 30 people plus at the viewing.”

Market rental properties in Hawke's Bay range from around $350 to $500 a week leaving the family with very little for living expenses. 

The couple believes potential landlords and agencies view them as a liability.

“It's something that is always on your mind you go to sleep thinking about it.”

Each week the family must provide proof to WINZ that they are trying to find rental accommodation in order for their emergency accommodation to be paid.  

WINZ has been supporting the couple with emergency motel accommodation assistance since 28 April, after their previous rental property was put on the market.  The couple have been given until June 30 to move out of the motel and have been contacted by Housing New Zealand with a possible offer of a rental house in Napier.